Galashiels football ground about to host first competitive fixture in front of fans for 17 months
Football’s coming home to Netherdale in Galashiels this Saturday, July 17, as Gala Fairydean Rovers prepare to host their first competitive fixture in front of spectators in 17 months.
It might well seem like an eternity for fans of Rovers since they last saw their team play a non-friendly game, a 4-0 victory over Edinburgh’s Civil Service Strollers in February 2020, but that long wait is now almost over, and they’ll be keeping their fingers crossed that the Covid-19 pandemic causes no further disruption to their fixture list.
East Stirlingshire are their visitors this Saturday for their opening Scottish Lowland Football League game of the 2021-22 season, with kick-off at 3pm, and Gala chairman Ryan Cass says he cannot wait to welcome fans back.
“Yes, we have played through most of the pandemic with the Lowland League exemption, but it's not been the same with spectators not being there,” he said.
“We can have up to 500 people for the East Stirlingshire game, so it promises to be a great occasion.
“Our manager, Neil Hastings, has been busy in the close-season adding to the squad, and the big challenge will be to improve on last season's sixth-place finish in the league.
“Other clubs have been spending heavily on getting players in, but our aim is to be up there amongst them.
“The pre-season campaign has gone well, although there have been a couple of niggling injuries, but these things happen.
“We are about to embark on a run of tough league games starting with East Stirlingshire on Saturday and Bo'ness away on Wednesday, but I am confident we
will do well.”
Supporters can now buy tickets online, thanks to a link-up with Edinburgh-based firm Fanbase.
Tickets for this weekend’s game cost £8 for adults and £4 for concessions.
Cass said: “With reduced capacities at games due to Covid restrictions, we recommend that spectators use this service.
“It speeds up things at the gate as we already have people’s details for track and trace.
“It will guarantee entry to games when attendance numbers are limited, so it would be helpful if people download the app.
“Our forthcoming games against Celtic and Rangers, for example, are going to have to be all-ticket.
“We have also gone on-line with our popular lotto draw through a firm called Clubforce and we have an estimated jackpot of £1,600 this weekend for just £1 a ticket.
“It is another example of how the club is moving with the times.”
For ticket details, go to app.fanbaseclub.com/club/gala-fairydean-rovers
Rovers Premier Club members continue to enjoy free entry for Lowland League matches, as well as being included in a monthly cash draw, for £5 a month.
The Borders’ other Lowland League side, Vale of Leithen, also begin the new season at home, hosting Cumbernauld Colts this Saturday at 3pm.