After last week’s trip to Gala Fairydean Rovers, Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic seemed like a perfect follow-up in the ‘great names for clubs’ stakes.
Situated just to the southeast of Edinburgh, “The Rose” are the newest club addition to the SPFL.
They won last season’s Lowland League Championship before defeating Fraserburgh (Highland League Champions) in the champion’s playoffs.
The Rose then faced off against Cowdenbeath for the right to be in the SPFL and crowned a tremendous season by defeating the ‘Blue Brazil’ twice over the two legs. They won 3-0 at New Dudas Park before visiting Central Park and completing the job with a 1-0 victory.
This season marks the highest position the Rose has ever played in their history.
A good time to be heading that way to see them play, then.
As ever, our day started early. A six a.m. rise and out of the front door fifty minutes later to catch the 07:05 bus to Newcastle.
We arrived in Newcastle just before the hour and made our way for some breakfast. In a slight change of schedule, we shunned our normal Greggs pastries and swapped in a trip to McDonald’s instead.
While sitting there munching our Mighty McMuffins, my eye was drawn to the wall art in the far corner…
Anyone who is familiar with the term ‘pareidolia‘ will know exactly why I saw A.L.F. in this art. My eyes cannot unsee ALF holding down his next meal (his preferred snack was cats).
Extraterrestrial life forms aside, our breakfast was most welcome and very tasty. We left McD’s at around 08:20 and headed for the train station.
Our train was due at 08:49 but was at the station well before then. We climbed aboard and settled in for the ride.
After last week’s tragic events at Cramlington and the subsequent delays, I’m delighted to say there was no repeat of that this week. We set off at the appointed time and enjoyed the sun that was starting to poke its warmth at us through the window.
We arrived in the Scottish capital at 10:20 and the sun followed us north. Edinburgh is a beautiful city anyway but in the sun, it really takes some beating.
Crowds of tourists milling along the street, bagpipers busting out the tunes to appeal to those tourists. Landmarks, historical buildings, modern shopping areas, Edinburgh really does have it all and Princes Street in the sun is a wonderful place for people-watching.
The Royal Mile and the castle sit atop the hill looking down on Princes Street and the eye-catching Scott Monument, with Waverley train station lying betwixt the two.
The next leg of our journey would start with a #31 bus from Princes Street.
We headed to Stand PJ and waited for one to appear. Meanwhile, we enjoyed the people-watching. One man, in particular, caught everyone’s attention as he staggered along shouting “British!”
I don’t know what the context for this was in his mind, he didn’t elaborate, unfortunately. A little fist-pumping and growling was all the extra knowledge he was prepared to impart.
We got on the #31 at 11:00 and thirty minutes later, alighted in the small Midlothian town of Bonnyrigg.
With a 2021 consensus population of 19,180, this town is not much bigger than my home town of Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. Uttoxeter Town FC currently plays in the ninth level of English football, to give some comparison to Bonnyrigg’s achievements.
Both clubs are currently playing at the highest level they have ever achieved and both have serious relegation concerns.
We headed to a pub that had been recommended to us on social media (thank you, Ryan Moffatt).
The Anvil Inn
The Anvil Inn is situated on Bonnyrigg’s High Street and is less than a five-minute walk from the ground. Perfect location for a pre-match pint and some lunch.
Despite not serving food until noon, we were made welcome and sat in the area near the large TV on the wall.
This early on, there weren’t many people in the place yet but that would soon change.
Just after noon, we ordered our food – steak and ale pie for me and macaroni cheese for Mrs Hopper. Two pints of Tennents were priced at a very reasonable £6.80, which would cost much more in Edinburgh’s tourist trap just up the road.
As we sat waiting for our meal, the Anvil started to fill up. As well as Bonnyrigg Rose shirts, we started seeing fans of Hibernian and Hearts gathering. This was because the big Edinburgh derby game at Easter Road was going to be shown on TV.
So, while the football played, we ate and everyone around us shouted almost as if it was a ritual… “Come on the Jambos!”. “Come on the Hibees!” We even got a “Come on the Rose!”
Then someone shouted “Goarrn Stoke!” Though I never noticed who that was… 👀
The rivalry in the pub was split pretty evenly, with possibly a slight edge to the Hibs’ allegiance. Either way, everyone was good-natured, despite the passion and it was great to be a part of it. Hibs were winning 1-0 by the time we left The Anvil and that’s the way it stayed.
We seem to be making a habit of this after watching the Glasgow derby last week in a pub split between the two.
Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic – Exterior
After a short walk – down High Street, cross the road onto Dundas Street and turn left – we found ourselves at New Dundas Park.
There really isn’t much to see outside Bonnrigg Roses ground. There is a car park, two turnstiles – one for home fans and one for away fans – a players and officials entrance and a nice set of gates with the club crest on.
The rest of the ground is inaccessible from the outside, so this side of the ground is all there was to see.
Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic – Interior
Payment for New Dundas Park is via cash or card at the gate. We paid £24.00 for the two of us and made our way inside.
We bought a programme from a seller just inside the ground beyond the turnstile. Like last week’s programme at Gala Fairydean Rovers, this was a 32-page effort costing just £2.00 and it represents great value compared to some others.
Given the recent successes of Bonnyrigg’s football team, this is basically a non-league club playing league football. That being said, I wasn’t expecting the ground to be like Somerset Park or Gayfield.
What we got, was pretty much what I expected, a good non-league setup with a few quirks and characteristics that set it apart from your run-of-the-mill stadiums.
To our right after walking into the ground, is the south end.
This is the end behind the goal and has a small three-stepped terrace with a roof at the nearest end that stretches from the corner flag to the eighteen-yard box.
The rest of this end is basically a path to either get where you’re going or stand on to watch the game.
An outer brick wall and a net complete the picture.
Ahead of us is the west side of the ground and the one that is most built up.
The first structure is the largest one at New Dundas Park – a covered, raised terrace that stretches from the corner flag to just shy of the halfway line. It contains eight steps of terracing.
Beyond this is another covered terrace with just two raised steps and is smaller than the previous one. It does look like a newer structure than the first one, though. A small wooden structure perches on top of this roof. This is a TV gantry used by Bonnyrigg Rose to capture match highlights.
Between the second and third structures, is a path up to the toilets and the snack bar. The snack bar doubles up as a little club shop where I bought a pin badge for my collection. I am reliably informed that the doner kebab pie is a rare treat here but I was too full from my lunch to try one.
The third and final structure for supporters lies at the far end of the west side of the ground.
It is the only seated area at New Dundas Park and has three rows of seating and contains around eighty seats. Some of these are reserved for club directors.
The players’ tunnel is positioned between the second and third structures. There are portacabin-style dressing rooms behind the seated stand.
The north end of the ground is bereft of any structures. There are some raised steps of terracing, some old and crumbling. A newer section lies directly behind the goal.
There is a wooden fence and a net at the top of the small bank to keep the ball out of the neighbour’s garden.
Technically, this is the designated ‘away end’, although there is nothing preventing supporters from moving around the ground as we did.
As we walked along the north end and into the east side of the ground, the Dumbarton players were going through their warm-up routines in front of us.
The east side of the ground is where the technical dugouts are located on either side of the halfway line.
A grassy bank lies to either side of these dugouts. The northern side is just a grassy bank but the southern end has crash barriers planted into the bank.
This is where we chose to stand and watch the match.
Also of note at New Dundas Park is the pitch itself. I imagine playing on it would be a little like being in the funhouse at the fair. It slopes downhill from west to east and also from south to north.
This would also make set pieces trickier than normal as you would have to adjust the strength and flight of your kick depending on which side you were taking them from.
There are four small LED floodlights which stand parallel to the eighteen-yard area. These were only installed as recently as 2019 and stand as another milestone in the club’s progress.
New Dundas Park has a total capacity of 2,640.