Britain's hardiest fanbase

Last updated : 10 December 2015 By Fargone
That's a Big Blow for Arbroath By RORY DAVIDSON  Scottish Sun

THE forecast for Arbroath tonight has winds gusting up to 35mph slicing in off the North Sea.

For Britain’s hardiest fanbase, the Scottish Cup replay-replay against Cowdenbeath should be quite literally a breeze.

Saturday’s first attempt — blown to a halt after 24 minutes — was a different matter.

Corner flags bow in fierce wind as game's abandoned

Ref Craig Charleston leant into the savage wind smashing the eastern terrace for one last time and called a merciful halt.

So once again, a big A appeared alongside Arbroath in the classified results. Amazingly, it was at least the FIFTH time this century the same outcome has been played out.

And that doesn’t count any game which didn’t make it to the starting whistle due to rain, snow, ice, fog, foot and mouth, floodlight failure, lightning, illness or any encounter where the Siberian gusts were deemed too dangerous to even start the match.

Records are sketchy but, in having five games begin and then be “blown off” since the millennium alone, Arbroath can surely claim a mark to go with its world record 36-0 Cup win over Bon Accord in 1885.

Gayfield Park — maybe Galefield would be more apt — is the ground closest to the sea in all of Europe.

Sure, it has four stands, but none is as big as the gaps between them, creating an eco-system of wind tunnels and swirling blasts. This is a spot where winning the toss really matters.

There’s nothing new about this in Angus, but the rest of the world has an increasing affection for Arbroath.

The Bon Accord result, the cute Red Lichties nickname, the 2011 fourth-tier title ending 133 years of hurt, the nudge-wink stadium name and its proximity to breaking waves have earned the club a cult popularity worldwide.

The 2000s got off to a bad start in a Cup tie in January. Motherwell were leading 1-0 at half-time and gale-lashed fans had to suffer a home official coming out on the field to spread his arms wide as the PA system had packed in.

His screams were carried away to Denmark but fans eventually got the message and began the long trek home.

Queen of the South were the visitors in 2001 when another plug was pulled. We were here again in March 2007, with the league game against East Stirling halted after 76 minutes.

The local paper’s match report mused: “Arbroath were controlling the game, but the Shire keeper was having his biggest problems saving his own goal kicks after they were blown back towards his goal.”

A game against Stirling Albion in 2011 lasted 18 minutes before the now-familiar mass early bath.

A different local report recorded: “The wind made decent football almost impossible and it took Arbroath more than six minutes to get the ball out of their own half.”

Arbroath Sporting Club, now dissolved, displayed some solidarity with their townfellows when a 2009 game against Dundee Violet came a cropper at half-time.

The Scottish Green Party chose Gayfield to make a presentation warning of the effects of sea level rises due to global warming this spring.

It was pretty big of the club to go along with this, as part of the doomsday warning had the ground becoming a suburb of the North Sea.

Arbroath’s calm even-handedness in such matters, bred from years daring the elements to do their worst, can be seen in the tone of John Christison, Scotland’s longest-serving football chairman.

He sighed: “Gayfield is in no immediate danger and we have no plans at present to move, but perhaps in the future club officials will have to make sure every employee has their swimming certificate.”