With the Faroese Effodeildin going right to the wire, neck and neck with 1 match to go, I thought I would defy public demand and shelve the long-awaited “Faroes Trip – Part 5” until the title race is over, which will be next Saturday. This weekend Kí Klaksvík won 6-0 at home to doomed B68 Toftir, but remain a point behind Víkingur, who will be champions next week if they win at AB Argir.
In the meantime I’m continuing with what my dear brother reminds me is supposed to be a Scottish blog after all. Palmerston is a ground I have visited many times over the years but if only I had been carrying a camera in 1976, I would have got a snap of the Bull Shed on the East side which was replaced by a modern, but not particularly fancy, 2192 seater stand in 1995. However here’s a couple of photos of the Bull Shed, or the Coo Shed, nicked off the internet with the usual grovelling apologies.
As I headed down to Dumfries that day in 1976 I was probably more concerned about the fate of my first car, a clapped-out Hillman Minx, which was left behind at Sonny Swinton’s garage near Loanhead for its MOT. This involved a fair bit of welding as the sills were rotten, and so were the wings, and as a poor student I thought I might be paying out good money only for the car to go to the scrappie anyway.
Anyway the car survived for another year, unlike the Queens who went out of the Scottish Cup at the Quarter-Final stage, 5-0 in front of 18700 against a Rangers team en route to the treble. While the big team from Glasgow included household names such as Greig, MacDonald, McCloy and Henderson, the Queens team that day is worth mentioning for nostalgia’s sake: Ball, McChesney, Thorburn, Clark, Boyd, McLaren, Dempsey, P.Dickson, Reid (Bryce), O’Hara, G.Dickson (Miller).
By this time I had already met the young Highland lass who was to become my wife, and my days as a supporter of one half of the Ugly Sisters were numbered. I became obsessed with Caledonian and later Inverness Caley Thistle so most of my future visits to Palmerston would be to see ICT.
However the following 3 shots are from a game against Falkirk in August 1995 when I decided to wander into the Terregles Street end with the away fans. Falkirk won this League Cup (Coca-Cola Cup) 2nd round tie 2-0 and in the 3rd pic you can see the spanking new East Stand. The Terregles Street terracing where I stood was later closed for a number of years but regained its safety certificate in 2014. The year before, the renowned grass surface was replaced by a 5G carpet.
Queens were formed in 1919 and immediately moved into Palmerston, built on the site of a farm called Palmers Toun, but football had been played on the site since the 1870s. Any self-respecting fan will tell you the club is actually in Maxwelltown over the river Nith, rather than Dumfries. They will also tell you that QoS are the only team mentioned in the Bible. The relevant verse is Luke 11:31 and is reckoned to refer to the Queen of Sheba.
The 85-foot floodlights, installed in 1958 and hanselled by Preston North End, are claimed to be the tallest in Scotland. The record crowd of 26552 came in 1952 against Hearts in the Scottish Cup.
Queens have never distinguished themselves by gathering national trophies. They did finish 4th in the top League once, but that was in 1934. They reached the final of the Scottish Cup in 2008, Qualifying for the Europa League where they went out to Nordsjaelland of Denmark. But they have never played in the Premiership or SPL, a blessing for many as their ground remains a favourite with standing at two ends, rather than the soulless all-seaters we’ve come to expect.
When ICT got into the League setup, it wasn’t long till they were crossing swords with QoS on a regular basis. In the first season in Div 3 they were drawn together in the Scottish Cup at Inverness, and QoS, in the division above, won 2-1 with two great strikes from Bell and Bryce.
I actually saw ICT 5 times at Palmerston and the best they got was 4 draws and a defeat. The most turgid match was a goalless draw on a Tuesday night in March 2003 when the travelling support numbered 28.
The latest was in December 2009 and ICT led for most of the match with a Johnny Hayes goal before Bob Harris equalised with a tremendous free kick. Ex-ICT legend Barry Wilson drew the free kick as well as dog’s abuse from the ICT fans who accused him of diving… ICT went up as champions the following spring and the clubs haven’t met since.
So when QoS were drawn against Linfield in the last 16 of the Irn-Bru Challenge Cup earlier this month, I felt that a visit to Palmy was overdue. It was conveniently played on a Sunday which meant not missing anything on the Saturday. Coming through the turnstile and looking at all the Butcher’s Aprons lined up in the away end you could be forgiven for thinking you were at a Rangers match, and the party songs belted out had a certain familiarity to them.
A decent travelling support of 1027 from Belfast contributed to a crowd of 2358 and Queens totally dominated the action if not the possession. Thanks to Roy Carroll, MoM in goals for Linfield, and Queens’ own attacking incompetence, the game arrived at 90 minutes completely goalless with QoS having a total of 28 shots. The chief culprit was Lyndon Dykes but he finally converted one of his chances in extra time. A wonderful free kick from Stephen Dobbie finally killed off the Blues with a 2-0 passage into the quarter-final.
QoS remains one of the Championship clubs which has never competed in the top flight in modern times. This is a real shame as Palmerston remains a favourite with visiting fans from all over the country. An absolute classic.
More blog developments: I’ve started a Photo of the Week feature and I think I’ve chosen a cracker for the first week. Feel free to have a look…