Gala Fairydean Rovers on road for first eight games of next Scottish Lowland Football League season due to pitch works

Next season’s Scottish Lowland Football League fixture list is out now and it sees Gala Fairydean Rovers playing away for their first eight games because of pitch replacement works under way at their Netherdale home ground.

Jack Beaumont challenging for possession during Gala Fairydean Rovers' 5-1 win against Caledonian Braves in August 2021 (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Jack Beaumont challenging for possession during Gala Fairydean Rovers' 5-1 win against Caledonian Braves in August 2021 (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

A £425,000 revamp of the Galashiels side’s main pitch and the next-door five-a-side field got under way in mid-June and is expected to take 10 weeks to complete, forcing them to hit the road for the first five weeks of next season.

Rovers are the Borders’ last men standing in the fifth-tier league, now expanded to 19 teams by the addition of a Heart of Midlothian B side to accompany the Celtic and Rangers’ colts admitted last year, following Vale of Leithen’s relegation at the end of last season and Selkirk’s dissolution and Hawick Royal Albert’s demotion in 2018.

The Edinburgh giants’ youngsters are one of three sets of new faces in the division, along with Fife’s Cowdenbeath, relegated from League 2, and East Lothian’s Tranent Juniors, promoted from the East of Scotland Football League premier division to take Vale’s place.

Martin Scott in action during Gala Fairydean Rovers' 5-1 victory against Caledonian Braves in August 2021 (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Gala were due to kick off their next campaign at home to Caledonian Braves on Saturday, July 23, at 3pm but that fixture has been switched to the Motherwell side’s Alliance Park ground in Strathclyde Country Park because of the 3G surface replacement works ongoing at Netherdale.

The reverse fixture will be the Borderers’ second game of 2023, taking place on Saturday, January 7, with kick-off at 3pm.

Braves, managed by Ricky Waddell, finished ninth in the league last year with 53 points from 34 games, four places and 16 points ahead of Gala.

Rovers took four points from them last season, though, beating them 5-1 at home in August 2021 and drawing 0-0 away in December.

Their scorers last summer were Marc Berry twice, Daryl Healy, Calum Hall and Martin Scott, now manager following Neil Hastings’ departure in January, with Cole Starrs getting one back for the visitors.

Their trip to Motherwell is followed by a further seven away games – at Edinburgh’s Civil Service Strollers on Tuesday, July 26, at 7.45pm; Cowdenbeath on Saturday, July 30, at 3pm; Edinburgh University on Tuesday, August 2, at 7.45pm; fellow capital side Spartans on Saturday, August 6, at 3pm; East Kilbride on Saturday, August 13, at 3pm; Glasgow’s Open Goal Broomhill on Saturday, August 27, at 3pm; and Tranent on Tuesday, August 30, at 7.45pm.

Rovers’ first home game of next campaign is against Berwick Rangers on Saturday, September 3, with kick-off at 3pm.

That’s followed by a trip west to Gretna 2008 on Wednesday, September 28, with kick-off at 7.45pm.

October brings three home fixtures – versus Celtic B on Saturday the 1st at 3pm, Dalbeattie Star on Tuesday the 4th at 7.45pm and Rangers B on Saturday the 29th at 3pm – plus one away game, at Bo’ness United on Saturday the 8th, with kick-off at 3pm.

November kicks off with trips to Cumbernauld Colts on Tuesday the 1st and Falkirk’s East Stirlingshire on Friday the 4th, both at 7.45pm, followed by visits from Hearts B on Tuesday the 8th, also at 7.45pm, and Stirling University on Saturday the 12th at 3pm.

Gala have three home fixtures lined up in December – against East Kilbride on Saturday the 3rd at 3pm, Civil Service Strollers on Tuesday the 6th at 7.45pm and Spartans on Boxing Day, a Monday, at 3pm – and two away, at Rangers B on Friday the 16th at 7.45pm and Berwick on New Year’s Eve, a Saturday, at 3pm.

They start 2023 at home to Edinburgh University on Tuesday, January 3, at 7.45pm, then, after hosting Braves on the 7th of that month, they’re away to Celtic B on Saturday the 14th and back at Netherdale on Saturday the 28th to take on Cumbernauld Colts, both 3pm kick-offs.

February brings three matches on home turf – against Tranent on Tuesday the 7th at 7.45pm, East Stirlingshire on Saturday the 11th at 3pm and Bo’ness United on Saturday the 25th at 3pm – as well as a trip to Hearts B on Saturday the 18th, with kick-off at 3pm.

March sees Gala face Cowdenbeath at home on the 11th and Stirling University away on the 18th, both Saturdays at 3pm.

Rovers are scheduled to end next season at home to Open Goal Broomhill on Saturday, April 22, at 3pm following two matches earlier that month, at home to Gretna on the 8th and at Dalbeattie on the 15th, both Saturday fixtures kicking off at 3pm too.