Chairman recalls great days at Meadowbank as Edinburgh City sign off

Jim Lumsden reckons moving to Meadowbank was the making of City
Jim Lumsden reckons moving to Meadowbank was the making of City
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With news filtering through that Cowdenbeath had lost at home to Arbroath last Saturday, Edinburgh City chairman Jim Lumsden was stood arms aloft in the Meadowbank stand, before the final whistle finally confirmed his club’s SPFL safety with a 2-0 win over Annan.

He’ll take his place in the old Commonwealth Stadium for the final time tomorrow. Stirling Albion are the last visitors before City’s temporary three-year flit to Ainslie Park next season as their current home is due for redevelopment.

Edinburgh City chairman Jim Lumsden

Edinburgh City chairman Jim Lumsden

While the result will have little repercussions for either team, the hosts will be keen to sign off their first ever home professional league campaign with a win.

For Lumsden, who followed the now defunct Meadowbank Thistle long before City were creating Scottish football history, it is a venue that holds many memories.

“I’ll miss it incredibly,” he admitted. “I’ve been watching football there since 1979 so it’s a lot of years. I must have seen near enough 900 to 1000 games there, although I don’t keep count! Moving in there has been everything for City. When we did, it was with one team and we now go right down to our kids’ school, we’ve got 30-odd youth teams and the amateur team, so it’s been good for City.

“In terms of memorable games, you really have to look at Scottish League games. The 1-0 win against Annan [November 2016] especially, which was our first ever league win at Meadowbank. The three-all game against Arbroath as well. They stick out as games where you thought, ‘we can really hack it in this league’.

“There’s loads of fantastic memories from my whole time at Meadowbank though. Beating East Stirling when we were an East of Scotland side, the big cup ties, winning the East of Scotland League and the two Lowland League titles. All absolutely fantastic.”

Lumsden does concede that the time has come for an upgrade to the old place, and is grateful that City will be using top-class facilities at Ainslie Park in the meantime.

“It’s looking its age,” he said. “Everybody that goes can see that. It has an incredible group of hard-working staff in there and we owe them a real debt of gratitude. All the staff and management have been really good with us, as have Edinburgh Leisure so I’ll miss that side of it.

“Ainslie Park is a fantastic set-up. Craig [Graham, Spartans chairman] and Dougie [Samuel, manager] have done wonders there. It’s a fantastic facility and we’re looking forward to playing there. I’d like to thank Spartans for their help and their cooperation.

“It’s only needing wee touches to meet league criteria. Turnstiles have to go in by the end of June but that’s basically it. The facility has a bronze award licence already. There’s wee bits and pieces we need to do differently being in the SPFL, but everything’s in place there.”

That those tweaks for league football are required comes as a massive relief to Lumsden. Survival seemed a forlorn hope after no wins in 11 games at the start of the campaign, but he and the rest of the City board’s faith in manager Gary Jardine never wavered, with a change of boss never on the agenda. “If you think you have the right person, you have to stick with them,” he explained. “In the league, quite a few clubs changed manager but for us, no. That was always clear.

“There’s always been a sort of continuity here. Gary was assistant to Shaun Stevens previously, and had played for the club as well for a number of years before that. The squad’s been the same, we’ve only ever really had to make a few changes in any season, so it certainly does help.”

The step up has also brought challenges for those behind the scenes. “Basically, from when Dougie [Gair] scored the penalty against Shire in May, we had the League Cup in July so not much time to get things in place,” Lumsden recalled. “It’s been hard work. When you see it all coming together though, you get a huge amount of pleasure. Knowing that the work the players have put in, Gary and his coaching team and everybody else at the club.”